tv Today in Washington CSPAN September 10, 2010 6:00am-7:00am EDT
>> outside of the beltway view, americans like this program. americans do not understand some of the wonkery that talks about raising the retirement age. in terms of mourning concessions, i once thought like some of you in this room may thatk and like ezra klein raising retirement age was not totally in sensible as a policy. over time, my view changed. it went from maybe make sense to it does not make any sense at all. that is a step that some of you may be in transition of taking. i agree it is a terrible idea.
besides that, it is not a good one either. [laughter] oh, a mouse. my read in french is here. -- my rodent friend is here. we are speaking about important things. the alice brief is a wonderful break that terry reference that raises the problems of retirement age. the cepr brief talks about the occupational issues. the ipi brief lays out the problems of raising the retirement age. and mary frieze i suspect will be laying out the information about the public and the public
thinks raising the retirement age is a bad idea, surprise. i would put this in some context and raise a few questions. i am talking about this in terms of the institutional context. i want to explain about the history of the retirement age and some of the issues surrounding it. i want to talk about its complexity but then i want to get to its ultimate simplicity and the simplicity which is really the take some point is that race in the eligibility for social security benefits is a highly inequitable benefit cut. even if you think the idea of cutting benefits is good, this is a terrible way to do because it places much of the burden on persons who are at the greatest risk in groups, low-income workers, often minority workers, substantially at risk in our society. the other take home on this is
that once, talking heads, and ideologues' really liked this idea. many of them are fine people. it really does not compute for many people. yes, the person in the street about raising the retirement age ask why you would want to do that, we have many people out of work. those are take home points. the policy questions that i want to touch on also are, and i will answer them quickly, because entitlement age changes have disproportionate impact on at risk populations? absolutely. that will be discussed further. should the retirement age be raised further? no, we have this grand experiment or not so grand experiment in place, the age of eligibility has been raised to age 66 and is moving up to 67 by
roughly 2027. here is a piece that we are discussing but i want to add into this discussion. should the age of first eligibility for social security be raised? should the early eligibility age which has remained at 62 go up to 65? here is an interesting issue. the arguments are -- they come from two angles pretty positive argument is we want to send a message that people should work longer. that is probably true, by the way. we should send that message that this may not be the right way to send that message. people should work wonder if they can end of the 12. two, we don't want people to except very reduced benefits. right now, the early retirement
benefit -- if you accept early retirement benefits at age 62, your benefits is 75% of the full benefit. once age 67 is phased in if you except at 62, your benefit is 70% of the full benefit. if the retirement age goes up to, say, 70, and the early retirement age does not go up, the benefit you would be receiving would be something in the neighborhood, if it was actually reduced to 55% if it was an actual benefit. for purposes of adequacy, we should raise the early retirement age. i would say absolutely not. it is a rational argument on one hand but the political argument is simple -- i don't believe you can really a raise the age of eligibility for social security, the general age, without also raging -- raising the age of
first eligibility period for important reasons, we should not do that plus there are many people need that option. that is the only thing they have out there. those are my take on points. -- those are my take column points. -- those are h my thoseome points. let me talk about the definition issues. there is no one retirement age under social security. there is a bend of retirement from age 62-70. if you accept benefits at age 62 today, it is 75% of the full benefit. if you accepted at age 66, it is one other%. if you accept it at age 70, it is 132% of the full benefit. a retirement age increase results in a benefit reduction at all those ages. and when it moves up to age 67, if you accepted as 62, to 70%
instead of 65% of a -- 75% of the full benefit. if you accepted at age 70, it is 124% instead of 132%. to support to understand that the age of eligibility is pure and simple, increases in the age of eligibility are pure and simple just benefit cuts at all ages that you accept benefits. as an academic, retirement is a fairly recent institution. we did not have this going back 100 years. a piece of its history, our first pensions came to regulate the work behavior of employees. it was the private pension rewards for long working used to regulate the labor markets. the retirement age, the existence of retirement age in our society is a function of
decisions both of increased productivity in the last century and decisions we made about allocating leisure. much of the leisure we chose to take from the increase productivity went into shorter work weeks. it also went to longer vacations in the last century before the 1950's. after the 1940's or so, to be increased leisure went into retirement, a period of non work. we created this institution. it is malleable to some extent for it is also terribly important. the early retirement story is interesting. it begins to some extent with the unions very successfully negotiating 30-year and out early retirement options. many of the unions that had defined benefits and many of the
businesses agreed to early retirement provisions that serve the purpose on the one hand of rewarding workers for long-term service and two, turning over the labor force. the flip side of all retirement age policy is also employment policy. when you get to keep -- the initial retirement age was set at 65. it was an interesting thing. when you talk with wilbur cohen and bob meyers, they said they did not have a scientific study. they thought 65 was about right. that is not an argument for raising it. that is an interesting artifacts. the age 62 retirement provision started with women in 1956. women's organizations, women's clubs advocated for an earlier
retirement age for women. the reason was the theory of that time was that women tended to be three years younger than their spouses. in 1961 in the midst of a very significant recession, we had the kennedy administration proposing reducing the retirement age for men. you had congressman charles vanick standing up saying if 2 million older workers retire because of this provision, that is 2 million more jobs for younger workers. there is this kind of interaction between employment policy. somewhere in the mid-1970's, juanita krebs, a distinguished economist and a former provost or presidents of the university of north carolina and later was secretary of commerce, she came
up with the notion of raising the retirement age. it was the first time it was really put forward. over time, we became acclimated to it. in the context of the last round of social security reforms, it was discussed. the greenspan commission did not reach agreement on raising the age of retirement under social security. they agreed to disagree on that. that was done in the house primarily. it was done in what is often called the battle of the condiments, pickle, pepper, and heinz were critical members of congress and very involved [laughter] you are a little slow on the uptake. it was congressman pickle who was pushing for raising the retirement age. congressman pepper was opposing it.
and wanted to stick a tax increase out in some future year in social security if it was needed and the house debated over that and a coalition of moderate-conservative democrats and republicans past the retirement age increase for social security. that is how it rears its ugly head more recently, it comes in the context of proposals that are delivered self righteously, oftentimes by tenured professors, by economists, by politicians that we should be working longer. there are many things i would say. i would not get into some of the complexities. there is a whole language of economics. a language of how we talk about retirement that should be understood. we have a very individual list of retirement decision literature in our country.
we talk about individual decisions as it people -- as if everyone makes a decision to retire as opposed to it happening to people or something people have to do. we have a very diverse population by income, by race, by ethnicity, by health and retirement age is just one broad brush of a policy change that cut across this and harms those most at risk. ultimately, i guess i would say it is very simple -- raising the retirement age is a benefit cuts, pure and simple and it really hurts americans who we should be very concerned about not hurting. it is not necessary. i don't believe any cuts are necessary. i believe we should increase benefits. even if you want to cut benefits, this is a terrible way to do it. we should get it off the table. it is terribly offensive to regular people out there who are
looking around and they are hearing the talking heads, hearing the self righteous folks say to them that they have to work longer and your children have to work longer. we're talking about raising the retirement age on people in their 50's, in their 40's, there 30's. they are saying that you all have to work harder in the midst of this extraordinary recession. there is a tremendous disconnect out there. i think there's also a tremendous anger when americans hear this. i think people out there are asking who are these people who are telling me i have to work longer. i am working pretty hard. the cab driver i took a ride with today said i am 70 and he gets $800 on social security and he is working because i don't think i can afford to stop working very people are working if they can vary who are these people? what do they know about work anyway?
you have to be kidding. what is -- look at what is happening all around us. there are not a lot of jobs. why would anybody want to do this? ps, if we want to change retirement age, france has provided an -- a good example, which it lowered it to 62. [laughter] [applause] >> thank you. i like the example that our colleagues in france have done by hitting the streets when it is suggested that the retirement age the race. our next speaker is monique morrissey, an economist with the economic policy institute. she used to work at the afl-cio office on investment and are areas of interest at epi include retirement security, labor markets, federal reserve, and executive compensation.
she will talk about the real drivers of the fact that the social security system, although solvent, really flush for the next three decades is not flush for the next 75 years and best practice would require that it would be solvent for this next 75 years. she will talk about the fact that the primary driver of this so-called shortfall is not life expectancy. [applause] >> thank you. for organizing this. can somebody give me a wave -- i know we might be short on time. when i get a couple of minutes left, just so i don't overrun. i will try not to repeat -- some of my presentation overlaps. i will try not to repeat what
heidi said and what terry mentioned. i want to mention that if you want to get the full pace -- i did not prepare a power point. if you need something to take back with you, get it from the table outside or come see me. before i start with what i was planning to say, usually my past history is not that relevant to my current corporate i used to work with pension funds for unions. in this case, it was. one thing i did when i was with the afl-cio is i worked there during the last five oversells security which is the private station fight. one of my jobs was to look at how wall street was surreptitiously funding the fight for privatization. they did not do this publicly because it does not look good. they were doing a behind-the- scenes. the current situation -- what is
going on here, you don't see a big push by wall street who are desperate right now saying we should cut social security. it would look very bad what you see in washington is a tail wind. there is no resistance. it is like you are moving for and there is no one pushing back. some of these groups are underfunded but overwhelmed. where the money is is definitely all in favor of cutting social security. i am an economist. i will focus primarily on what i call debunking actuarial determinism. i made up this term. in the history of economics, but there is an economist at said we are having too many babies and we will all start. it turns out that the economy
grew and that was not the case. we have a certain amount of logic that a similar. we are living longer and social security is not sustainable. it turns out that living longer is one of many factors that affects social security finances. it is not a major factor at all. that is partly because we live longer in retirement but we are living longer before retirement and putting more years of work before retirement. there is emigration, an increase in the work force that is a factor. you can pick any number of changing trends, a change in the birthrate, all of these affect social security finances because this is organized by the women's groups. women have entered the workforce and women have always received benefits through social security primarily in the past. they are now receiving them as
workers. the people who support raising the retirement age focus very narrowly on increases in life expectancy to make it look like this is some thing, this mathematical determinism that it is not sustainable for that reason. it bears close scrutiny. to go quickly over the 10 points i would have made, i will get some of them in the interest of time. the first point is that raising the retirement age is a benefit cut. it does not have anything to do with working longer. they say that you could make it up if you work longer. the second point which is what i will focus on is that life expectancy is not the problem. that is not what cause the deterioration in social security finances. there are many other factors.
it is one of the many factors that determine the projected actuarial balance. it is a fairly minor one. you don't have to believe me. i will quote the chief actuary for social security. life expectancy should not be viewed in isolation. there is a lot of people including the co-chair of the fiscal commission who like to focus not only on the fact that people are living longer but they sort of like to blame the victim. they say people are retiring under than they used to bait. e. many people retire early are not making that choice. they are losing their jobs or are unemployed. this has always been the case. they retire because they may be sick or they lose their jobs. this idea that people are making a choice to retire early is a
misleading concept. going back to the point about women working and entering the labour force, some of the same people who are saying that we are focusing on this actuarial, the demographics of it, say we used to retire and they pick a number. they say were used to retire at 68 and 67. go is"we?" we his men. we have seen a decline over decades in the retirement age but there has been an increase in people working at older ages. there are more people working but they tend to retire earlier because women tend to retire earlier than men because they often retire at the same time their husbands do and their husbands are often older. that is a non-issue. it is not true that we're working less at older ages 3 we are working more than we ever have been at older ages. that is what matters to social
security not be misleading statistic of what the retirement age is. the other point is that this has been debunked by the concept that social security is an entitlement and entitlement costs are spiralling out of control. that is absolutely not true. social security will increase a little bit but it will lead. law level of. f. if we can restrain health-care costs, we would not have this problem. it has nothing to do with aging or life expectancy. it has everything to do with health care costs. the other point is that so security cannot add to the public debt because social security cannot bar. borrow.
the former chief actuary of social security made the point that social security is prohibited from borrowing so it can run a short-term deficit only when it's got savings in the trust fund. when the savings runs out, it cannot borrow. when the baby boomers retire, it will be running a deficit temporarily but over time, it is a balanced budget program. there is no way that social security can contribute to long- term deficit. it should not be discussed in that context. if that seems complicated to you, rather than spend time on it today, there is a paper out there that explains that. also, we should not shrink the only part of our system that is working. there are many members out there. many people who are proponents of raising the retirement age will say that these are
temporary problems. we see a sharp decline in assets in retirement savings and also another kind of savings, specifically home equity which is actually half of what it was at its peak. this is not a small thing because historical late home ownership has been the biggest component of peoples savings, not retirement savings. if you did not have a traditional pension plan, the equity in your home was most important. 401k's arenra's and well below 2007 levels. the typical person had $45,000 n/a 41 k and retirement savings. it was not enough to begin with. it is absurd that we should be talking about cutting the one part of our retirement system that works when everything else
is proven to be a disaster. why are we focusing attention on the private sector on a wife 401k plans did not work well, going back to my earlier point, there are many people that make sure that is not the focus of attention. in many cases, we often stand here and say what we should be doing but it is not politically popular. in this case, people are willing to pay more for social security. i have been told to wrap up. if you are going to focus on life expectancy keep in mind this is an increase for people at the top of the income distribution. those are the people that the amount they are paying in taxes to social security -- the amount
of their income u has beenn text -- a hasu beenn text -- that has been un taxed has increased. these other real factors that cause the deterioration in social security finances, not the increase in the retirement age. these are in my prepared remarks and if you want to learn more about this, i am happy to talk to anybody afterwards. thank you very much [applause] . >> our next speaker is sc johnhmidt, a senior is johnschmidt. he has written extensively on inequality, unemployment, the
welfare state, and other topics for academic audiences and popular audiences. he will be summarizing reason cepr research that fines substantially longer life expectancy has not translated into comparable and raising the national retirement age will have very low impact on the national deficit or the national debt. [applause] >> thanks a lot. let me get this set up real quick. thanks. thank you. thanks very much and thanks for the chance to be here today. i am standing in for a wo nicholo -- standing in for
nickel woo. she asked me to talk about three reports thatcepr has put out over the last few months looking at the issue of national retirement -- raising the national retirement age. this is just going to be the headline. we have copies of the paper here and they are outside and confided at our weather c,epr.net. cepr.net. these other four reports. three reports and a bonus. there are papers by the team of people and cepr that work for social security.
nichol woo is our point person on this so i would urge you to get in touch with her or me or anyone on our team if you have questions about social security. let me talk about the first three papers. i want to call your attention to the deaths in a letter which is on the looks of the impact of various proposals to change social security over the long term. it will give you a clear idea of how relevant a change in the national retirement is to the deficit situation. we have many other options. let me shift to talk about the three reports. the first is a report by a david rosnick that addresses the argument that we are living longer there for creating stress
on the social security system and we should raise the retirement age. david has done an excellent job in showing that if you look over the last century, there has been a bit above a 20-year increase in life expectancy. that sounds like we are living longer, but it's important to look at the composition -- composition of that increase. more than half of that increase is from people living from age 0-1 0r age 0-5. a huge expectancy in children living longer. it accounts for about 1/4 of the overall increase in life expectancy. it is taking place during people's regular working lives. imagine that in 1899 some may have died at the age of 58 and now they are living until 65 or 67.
they are making more contributions to social security during that extra lifetime they have to work. those are more than compensating for the increases in life expectancy at 65. if you look from 65 forward, it is just about 1/4 of the increase in life expectancy over the last century which took place after the age of 65. that was the retirement age built into the original social security system. this is a relatively modern -- modest part of the system. we can very easily deal with this by other measures. there are very nice grass in this particular report. they are a g the kind ofraphs -- the a r the kind ofgraphs which show you the life expectancy at 65. that is much smaller than the
life expectancy at birth. this is another way of making that same point. a 20-year-old man born 1899 could expect to work for 30 years or if there were born in 1949, they could work for 42 years. there has been a big increase in life expectancy at 65 but for younger ages as well. the second report that i want to pull a headline from is a report that dean baker and today rosnick produced recently that shows clearly that raising the retirement age is a very un equal weight -- will have a u veryn -- a will have a very un
equal effect on workers. it hits younger workers of the hardest. in order to prevent long-term declines in the benefits for children, what we are going to do is to implement mandatory declines and benefits for the next generation. you can see that right now. they did an analysis here where they looked at the impact across workers of a certain age, of different ages right now under the assumption that we would increase the national retirement age to age 70. the impact of 55-59 year olds is much less of an impact. this is a very un equal way of doing this. you are implementing a plan where it n hasegative equity
considerations. the other point is that the impact of this is very disproportionately against lower income workers. lower income workers depend much more on social security for income after retirement. any kind of a cut has a disproportionate cut on the income they have. this graph looks at people in the same age group and they bottoming percentile as much larger declines in the overall income as a result of the national -- of raising the national retirement age. the third report -- this is a point that others have made parade this particular report does a good job of quantifying some of the dimensions.
this report is one that addresses the idea that since we are all all working in front computers now, we should be able to work longer. several people have made this point already that we are not all working in front of computers, just the people who want to cut social security. [laughter] my colleague did a very good job of taking analysis on the specific task that is involved in occupations and mapping those to national -- to a national representative. this follows a method astrology -- a methodology that the urban institute originally put together. they identified two kinds of jobs. one was physically demanding jobs involved in handling and moving objects, spending significant time standing, and
general physical activity for the second kind of job that she identified was difficult working conditions, and they are jobs working in a cramped space, working outdoors, jobs with exposure to extreme temperatures, contaminants equipment or noise. there is a concrete definition of what a physically demanding job is and what a job with difficult working conditions is. what they found was pretty striking. there may be fewer people today that have physically demanding jobs than in the past but there are still many people today working who have physically demanding jobs or bad working conditions. looking at the population over age 58 that is working, there are over 1/3 of that population who has a physically demanding job. that is 6.5 million people. about 1/4 of that population are in jobs that have difficult
working conditions and that is about 5 million and when you combine the two and take care of the overlap because some are both, you are left with 8.5 million people 58 and over who have jobs that are either physically demanding or in difficult working conditions. is a nicegraph in the report that break this down and shows the different kind of jobs by age. this is also a veryun equal across certain workers. over half of the latino workers are in jobs that are physically difficult. over half of african-americans are in jobs that are physically demanding. that is also true for asian- pacific americans. in order workers will be disproportionately affected by this kind of problems of having to continue to work and a physically demanding job.
the lower wage workers are much more likely to be and physically demanding jobs. over half of older workers in the bottom percentile have physically demanding jobs. i will conclude there by encouraging neyou to check out these papers. if they seem to be helpful to your understanding. i would encourage you to take a look d at theebt said -- to take a look of debt simulator. i would also encourage you to contact nick called wo -- and wo
callo for any of us if you have any question [applause] . >> thank you so much. what hits me about your presentation are the things that eric said i find it so reprehensible. that the harshest sacrifices that are being proposed to fix our federal budget deficit, those sacrifices would be imposed the most who do not look like the members of the fiscal commission. they are overwhelmingly white and male and day -- and their life experience i suppose makes it understandable that they are not really not keying into the damage they will do with their proposed cuts to social security benefits. it is understandable but remains in my view reprehensible. our final speaker is mario frieze, counsel and director to
preserve social security and medicare. she will talk about a recent poll conducted by the university of new hampshire by the end for the national committee which says that washington lawmakers are out of step with people in the country as they look for ways to cut social security and reduce the nation's deficit. thank you, maria, for coming in [applause] year. >> thank you. thank you so much the handout for working their way through the crowd. thank you very much. i want to start out first by saying that i appreciate being
invited to join you here today. one thing i have learned from but males and my family, there is a real challenge to batting cleanup, as the column are you never know how much time you will have to do your presentation. i will have to talk really fast. i think we have run over the time we have available. i want to let you know that the polling we have done here that we are presenting was done by the national committee to preserve social security and medicare foundation. this is not a unitary we have done a. similar polls this was done by the university of new hampshire because there survey center is nationally known as a non-partisan academic public opinion research center. it conducts polls for the boston globe and they have in recent years conducted political polls for cnn, fox news, usa today, philadelphia inquirer, pretty much everybody under the sun.
we have also done polls and focus groups with groups like silinda lake. you will find that within a couple of percentage points, the margin of error, we are finding the same results. there is nothing unique about this particular set of material. it was done by an entity we selected because we did not want to be accused of having some kind of bias. the reasoning for that is that we know it historically americans love so security. there's no doubt in anyone's mind about that. the national committee itself as a senior organization and we have 3 million members and supporters who come from all walks of life. we are pretty evenly split between democrats, republicans, and independence ourselves. they all band together and the reason is they are passionate about protecting social security
and medicare and not just for themselves but also for their children and grandchildren for future generations. this is very frustrating sometimes if you're an organization like ours. this is not just about all people taking care of themselves. most of our members care about this program for their kids. we found that out during the bush privatization years because our members, our present went around the country doing even some privatization, the people in the crowd and were the most vocal and adamantly opposed to privatizing the program new that the privatization that the president was proposing at the time was not going to affect them. this was not about protecting their benefits. it is -- this was not about protecting their wallets. it was about looking at their children who were in their 30's or '40's and their grandchildren and knowing that these young degenerations for the most part do not understand the value of
the program because they have kids in education and homes and many other things they're worried about. their retirement is one of the last things they are thinking about when they are in their 30's. the older generations know how important these two programs will be for them. they were the ones that were out there on the front lines making sure that the program did not get privatized. we are finding the same kinds of things now. however, the one thing we were concerned about was that because of the deficit situation, we want to find out whether people's attitudes had changed. had people suddenly began buying the argument that because of the financial situation that the country is in, we cannot afford social security? that is primarily what was driving our decision to begin this work last fall. we begin with focus groups. we did one round of polling and we did this particular round of polling later on in the spring. what we have discovered in this process is that in fact people's
opinions about social security have not changed. it is interesting because we have found that this it does not limit itself to the older generation. this is across the board. i will also mention that the version of the power point that will go through today that is in your hands is a shorter version of the study we did. the more extensive version is on the national committee's website. you are free to go through that if you want. one thing we discovered is that the vast majority of people know about the. deficit i was surprised that there were people who had not heard much about it considering the fact that it seems to be on the news cycle 24-7. however, when they were asked the open-ended question -- what do you think the problem is? what do you think caused the
deficit? only 2% of the people peg did as being a problem with social security. that is about the same problem n at thoughtasa was the problem -- that thoughtnasa was the problem. [laughter] it was a natural connection that they did not think social security should be cut to deal with the deficit problem. if you have something that is not causing a problem, you don't of shrinkage in order to take care of the problem. the american public understands that. there were 77% of the people who took the position that social security should be left alone. in fact, if you look at the breakouts, you can see the national average up front. it crossed party lines. it crossed age groups. we also found it crossed in come
demographics. we pull the different parts of the country for it made no difference whether you were from a red state or a blue state or purple state or some other states. people did not believe that social security should be cut in order to reduce the deficit. in fact, we got the same comparable levels of results from the ask the question that it should be cut to strengthen finenesses. people do not believe social security should be cut. we as a series of questions about whether or not social security was important in this kind of economic time or whether we thought it was somehow the cause of the deficit problem. again, we found a significant portion of the population believe social security provides the ability and security to its people and very, very few believe it was a drain on the economy despite the many millions of dollars that have
been spent to try to convince them otherwise. when you look at the demographic breakouts, it is the same issue. no matter what party you identify with or no matter what age group you were in, they were within 10 or 15 points of each other. there was a significant amount of unanimity among different groups of people. if you asked a similar question which was how important is social security to the american working family, we found very, very strong support to the statement that the recession underscores how important to social security is to working families. rather than a recession showing that we cannot afford the program, the american public believes this is the kind of economic situation where -- that highlights how important social security is to working families. this was an interesting set of
questions that we axed. we asked the question," do you personally think your personally going to need social security when you get to retirement a?" we ended up with a very strong majority that believe they expect they will need social security when they retire. 70% of the people who were in that category, if you look at the first two columns, those are the people that had that view the strongest. we then asked the question and broke out the questioned by income categories and by age. for this, i found it fascinating that if you look at this income group, this age group, these are the young people. these are people 36 and younger. we started at 18. this is the group that the changes are supposedly being made to benefit what you will find is that this group of
people who do not think social security will be there for them, by the way. when you poll them, they say it will not be there for them. they say tens of millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent trying to convince those people in particular that social security will not be there for them. you remember the old survey about believing in aliens? they do not think it will be there. they worry it will not be there. they absolutely think they will need it. part of the reason is because they know that they themselves are barely struggling to get by as it is. they know they will need the program. they also have the ability to look at the generations beyond them. they look at their grandparents and see how much the grandparent's rely on the program are they look at their parents. they see what happens to their parents and the reason the economy. most of their parents lost a boatload of money in their 401k
plants. most of their parents were planning to retire on home equity loans which of gone down or are under water. they look at the generations ahead of them and they are rapidly discovering that social security is the only thing left. in a bad economic times even if you don't think the politicians will protected, that is the only thing you can rely on when we did the folks groups, we found is coming through strongly. for people who leave not just the question of whether young people believe in it, we try to remind them that they may not think it will be there but they absolutely think they will need it. that is extremely important. on the political side, we ask political questions because this is a political year. we discovered that a significant majority of americans are more likely to vote against a candidate -- vote for a candidate who -- the vote
against a candidate that is likely to cut social security. this number are the ones that will not vote for candidates who support cutting benefits and you have people who just don't know or for home social security is not the only sure to vote on. we believe that members want to cut social of security at their peril and we want them to keep that in mind. we pulled the various options that people are looking at for making social security changes. this is raising the retirement age. it polled believed favorably. -- it pulled the least favorably. --it polled the least
favorably. removing a wage caps had strong support with people who made over $100,000. we also found that people were much more willing to pay more in payroll taxes higher wage cap, pay more to social security if they thought it would be there for them and it was protected on the retirement age, across party lines, across the immigrant groups, across parts of the country, very strong opposition including the people 35 and under who you would think would be the focus and the most willing to raise the retirement age because they are so far away from retirement. in fact, we were quite surprised that the strength of that particular demographic group was as high as it was.
part of the reason is that the deficit situation has not changed americans' views of social security. they viewed as the program and i understand every paycheck a payroll tax goes out to pay for this program. they resent the fact that the government is running deficits and have been using social security surplus to pay of other programs or they think it is their money. they think it has been a waste and other programs and went back and they are absolutely opposed to thinking about people taking the money and not giving them back a benefit. they think the promise that was made to them should be kept. we have discovered there is a huge disconnect between where the american public is and where members of congress are. we believe that the american public is strongly behind us.
know that there is a fiscal commission and have no idea that congress is thinking about cutting their benefits. when you tell them this is going on, they are appalled. when word gets out, hopefully we will hear more about this. they need to understand, particularly members of congress, this is a much more descriptive explanation of where the american public is than what they are hearing from their economists and some of the other people that have been trying to cut the program since its inception. thank you. [applause] >> thank you to all of our speakers. i hope this has been informative for all of you. i don't think we have time for questions unfortunately but i believe that this bakers will be willing to stay for a few
moments for people who want to approach them individually. we have a typo in our handouts. i misspoke earlier for this briefing has been organized by social security matters which is a coalition of women's organizations working on social security. social security works is a partner but social security matters is the one that put this together. in the packet, if you look at the reductions in monthly old age benefits from increasing the retirement age, there is a fascinating charge. cga --rt. thank you for coming and have a great day [applause] .
[captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2010] with former 9/11 commissioner leaders tom keane and lee hamilton. and president obama's white house news conference will be live at 11:00 a.m. eastern. and after a look at the headlines, we will discuss bp's internal reports about the gulf of mexico oil spill with siobhan hughes, f